Shradha is fourteen months old and has been sick for a long time. The hole in her heart, what cardiac experts call a septal defect, was diagnosed two months after her birth. Doctors who examined her said that an open heart surgery was immediately in order. The baby girl's family decided to begin treatment immediately, knowing fully well that soon a treatment fund crunch would set in, but they took early actio, and went ahead with her hospitalization at an Apollo Hospitals unit in Delhi.
Shradha's father Subrant Rout is a car driver for a corporate house and makes between nine and Rs. 10,000 a month, which has to take care of the family's rent, food and other essentials, as well as support his daughter's treatment. Subrant's wife, Shradha's mother, is a homemaker. She cannot take up a job to supplement the family income because she has to look after their sick child night and day.
5 lakh rupees are needed not just for surgery costs, but also for hospitalization expenses, to buy drugs, and to pay doctors' fees. Raising treatment costs has been a steady nightmare the family has had to deal with for nearly a year now, as many low-income families in India must when a big illness strikes one of its members. Shradha's parents have mortgaged what assets they had to fund the little girl's initial treatment at a Apollo Hospitals facility in Delhi, but the child has had to be released from the hospital because her family had no more money to carry on with her treatment there.
She has since been shuttled across healthcare centers, with her parents hoping each time that they would be able to get her surgery done on the money they had already collected, but every time disappointment waited for them. Shradha is now at the Routs' humble family home, she is in pain, and at the risk of contracting infections that could spread to her lungs and put her at greater risk.
"My child is wasting away before my own eyes and I have never felt more powerless" says Subrant. "I feel helpless as a father because no matter how hard I work I cannot earn the 5 lakh rupees needed to cure my Shradha in such a short amount of time."
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